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May 22, 2024 Q+A with avant-garde artist Jeannel

We spent five minutes with multi-modal artist Jeannel (Jeanne Amiens), who shared a new single, ‘Blue’, and its equally breathtaking video on 03 May 2024 via Unfelt Recordings. The video premiered on the notable tastemaker NOTION. The song was produced by Jeannel herself and (Tory Lanez, Belly, Moses Yoofee Trio), mixed by, and mastered by 4x Grammy-nominated engineer Zino Mikorey (Hans Zimmer, Thom Yorke, Metronomy, Parcels, The Kooks, Fred Again). The Berlin-based songwriter and producer has garnered 1.5 million streams across platforms, earning praises from likes of Resident Advisor, Vice Mag, CLASH Mag, Earmilk, The Line of Best Fit, Kaltblut Mag and more, as well as landing placements on various Spotify playlists and earning spins on radio stations such as NTS Radio. Jeannel has graced the stages of Red Bull Music Festival, Clouds Hill Festival and Reeperbahn Festival NYC Edition, in addition to performances at art galleries and museums, and artist residencies (such as one in Havana, Cuba) abroad to boot. These are but a few of the host of achievements under her belt, and she’s showing no signs of slowing down. Jeannel’s music delicately dancing between the borders of alt-R&B, avant-pop, trip-hop, neo-classical and beyond, has been compared to feminine luminaries such as FKA Twigs, Solange, Lana del Rey, Sevdaliza and Charlotte Day Wilson.

Walk us through your creative process?
It’s always a bit different, but usually it starts with the music. I am always on the look for sounds that inspire me when I start working on a piece, I scroll through my plugins and go from there. Or it’s a chord progression on the piano, or a cello phrase, or just soundscapes that I catch somewhere. Then vocal melodies come up that I record on the phone, and the lyrics come in bits and pieces. Over the years I learned to let my subconscious guide me and let it provide bits and pieces of lyrics. From there the pieces unfold, really like a puzzle piece most of the time. 

Who are your biggest artistic influences?

I won’t stop naming Jeff Buckley, as he just got under my skin the first time I heard him. His rawness, his expression, his honesty, his darkness, the lyrics, his voice and play. He truly was one in a million and I find his music still so timeless and inspiring. Sevdaliza definitely is an inspiration as well. She’s a brilliant artist and I find her boldness very inspiring.

What would you like to work with if you weren’t a musician?
Definitely in the therapeutic field, which I am already doing. I have a deep urge to work with people. Archeology I’ve always found and still find very interesting as well. But if I needed to choose it would be the first named.

Tell us about the process of creating the stunning video for ‘Blue’.
It was a long process with many obstacles. I’ve been meaning to make a video for the song since quite a while, spoke with different directors and things always got in between. At last the stars aligned and I gathered an incredible team of creatives that committed to making this project happen against so many odds, mostly financially. I can say that it was the most draining but most rewarding project I’ve ever made, as I didn’t have fundings or a production company in my back. So all of that was on my own shoulders this time, from gathering the team, to financing the project, to making the music and doing a super vulnerable and strong performance on camera. It’s a CRAZY thing to do, making music videos with low budgets and I am so grateful for the team for sticking with me and being so generous and helpful throughout the process. 

From day 1 I had the vision for the video of telling a (my own) love story in its stages, from bliss to destruction and everything in between. I wrote the song for my ex partner during Covid when we were actually still together, and I knew I had to create this piece to somehow honour the relationship, to do something that I had control over meanwhile the relationship was crumbling uncontrollably. As it’s such a personal and vulnerable piece, my biggest concern was finding the right performance partner, with whom I’d feel comfortable enough and who would himself understand the project and could contribute his own emotionality, his own story, which luckily happened very easily. I made an Instagram post and Kelvin reached out. We had been following each other for a while and I already had him in the back of my head. We had a first phone call, met for a coffee and then started ‘rehearsing’, with my dear friend Marie, holding the space for us to explore and get to know each other. It was a super organic process, from first becoming acquainted with one another, losing inhibitions etc. It was important for me to be able to tell my own story, meanwhile giving Kelvin the space to tell his, so we could eventually merge them into a story of its own. It’s all improvised, bit by bit creating our language, images and tools to tell love’s stages. 

Then Lauren, the director, joined the rehearsal and translated our performance into video language. 

Last minute, the location we had initially counted on cancelled and I had to find a new one. It was so crazy stressful. But the stars aligned and the rest is history and I couldn’t be more content and touched by the piece we created.

What’s one piece of gear you can’t live without? What equipment are you using?
TC Helicon Voice live touch. 

If you could meet one performer/artist, living or passed, who would it be?
Definitely Jeff.

What does the future hold for you as an artist?

I am in the middle of finishing my debut album, which I am quite excited about. Besides I’m working on a collaboration with Âme, also very exciting, but cannot reveal too much about it.  I am planning a few collaborative projects which I’m very passionate about, more in the institutional field, galleries, museums etc.

Then hopefully playing a bunch of international shows in connection to the release of my album in 2025 and see where that takes me. But first and foremost finishing my album.

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